The Bombay High Court will hear on Wednesday the petition filed by Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik, who was arrested last week, seeking quashing of the case registered against him by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) which is probing money laundering linked to fugitive underworld don Dawood Ibrahim. Malik, who is currently in the ED's custody till March 3, had on Monday filed a petition in the HC, claiming his arrest was "illegal", and sought immediate release. On Tuesday, his advocate Taraq Sayed mentioned the plea before a division bench of Justices S S Shinde and N R Borkar seeking urgent hearing.
The court was informed that the regular bench of Justices P B Varale and S P Tawde, designated to hear criminal petitions, would not be available this week. Justice Shinde then said his bench would also not be available on Wednesday. The matter shall be listed for hearing before a bench of Justices S B Shukre and G A Sanap on Wednesday, he said. NCP leader Malik on Monday filed a petition in the high court, seeking to quash the case and also the order passed by a special court remanding him in the ED's custody. He alleged that his arrest was "illegal" and that he was targeted for being a "vocal critic of the misuse of central agencies". The petitioner stated that he is not the first to be targeted and this is a worrying trend across the nation, where central agencies are being misused by the party in power. "The political rivals of the petitioner naturally have been deeply embarrassed by the exposes carried out by the petitioner and the present brazen and completely illegal action of the ED is to try to muzzle him," the petition said. Malik claimed that he has absolutely no connection with any of the "anti-national" accused (Dawood Ibrahim and other gangsters) named in the FIR registered by the NIA which was the basis of the ED's case.
In his petition, Malik stated that he was forcibly picked up from his residence by the ED officials on February 23, without any notice or summons under section 41A of the Criminal Procedure Code. The minister further stated that the February 23 order of the special court designated to hear the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) cases was without jurisdiction. The ED's case is that Malik, in connivance with Dawood Ibrahim's aides - Haseena Parker, Salim Patel and Sardar Khan - hatched a criminal conspiracy for usurping the ancestral property of one Munira Plumber at Kurla in Mumbai, which is valued at around Rs 300 crore. Thus, it is the proceeds of crime, the federal anti-money laundering agency had claimed. The probe agency's case is based on an FIR filed recently by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) against Dawood Ibrahim and others. The NIA had filed its criminal complaint under sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The statement of state Miniroty Affairs Minister Malik was recorded under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). In his petition, Malik said the case in hand pertains to a property purchase done two decades ago, when PMLA was not on the statute book and hence, there cannot be any retrospective application of the Act.